Upwind wind plants can reduce flow to downwind neighbors

phys.org | 12/18/2018 | Staff
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New National Science Foundation and Department of Energy-funded research highlights a previously unexplored consequence of the global proliferation of wind energy facilities: a wake effect from upwind facilities that can reduce the energy production of their downwind neighbors.

In collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), faculty at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and the University of Denver (DU) developed the paper, "Costs and consequences of wind turbine wake effects arising from uncoordinated wind energy development," which appears in Nature Energy. The study uses atmospheric modeling along with economic and legal analysis to demonstrate that wind facility wake effects—which occur when groups of turbines reduce wind speed for miles behind them—are measurable and predictable.

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"This work argues for more thoughtful deployment of wind energy," said Julie Lundquist, a researcher at CU and lead author of the study. Lundquist, who works with NREL's National Wind Technology Center, is an associate professor in CU Boulder's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and a fellow of the CU/NREL Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute. The paper is co-authored by K. K. DuVivier of DU's Denver Sturm College of Law, as well as Daniel Kaffine and Jessica Tomaszewski of CU.

Wind facility wakes have been observed to extend up to 25 miles. Of the 994 individual wind facilities in the United States in 2016, nearly 90 percent are within 25 miles of another wind facility, all of which could experience wake effects.

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